clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jacoby Ellsbury signs with Yankees for a long, long time

Jason Szenes

I just read one tweet about Jacoby Ellsbury's new contract with the New York Yankees, and spent exactly 14 seconds looking at his page, and my not-even-back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest this conclusion: If you're a fan of any other American League East team, you should be exceptionally happy.

Well, maybe not if you're exceptionally old. Because this deal will probably look pretty good for the Yankees in the short run. If you're exceptionally old, you might not see another season in which the Yankees miss the playoffs. On the other hand, now you've got a reason to keep on living: Don't let the Yankees outlast you, dammit! Hang on for three or four or five more years, and Jacoby Ellsbury might look like Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez look like now.

But wait. Let's back up until before you were thinking about being dead.

Four years ago, Ellsbury was coming off a season in which he'd hit decently and played a good center field, while leading the American League with 70 steals. He wasn't a superstar, but he was on his way.

Then he missed nearly all of the 2010 season with injuries.

Ellsbury came back in 2011 and went crazy, hitting 32 home runs -- he'd hit only 20 in four previous seasons -- and wound up finishing a strong second in Most Valuable Player balloting. Now he was a superstar.

Then he missed half of the 2012 season with injuries, and didn't play well when he did play.

Ellsbury came back in 2013 and ... well, he didn't go crazy. He hit nine home runs and played a good center field, while leading the American League with 54 steals (in 58 tries!). He was very good, maybe even outstanding. Sorta depends on how much credence you give to single-season ballpark "effects" and single-season fielding "metrics" ... but it's not really so hard to argue that Ellsbury was one of the league's 10 best players this year.

Will he be again, though? Sure, if he's healthy. Ellsbury just turned 30, and figures to have another two or three outstanding seasons in him. If he's healthy.

But this isn't a two- or three-season deal. It's a seven-season deal. And before you say it doesn't matter because after two or three seasons the Yankees will just find someone else to produce all those runs and play center field, just consider how difficult it's been for the Yankees to just cut Alex Rodriguez loose. Or Mark Teixeira. Even in this era of wine and roses for practically everybody associated with professional baseball, it's difficult to bench, let alone flat-out release, anybody who's making $22 million per season. What's more likely is that by 2017 or '18, Ellsbury's sucking up a lot of dollars (who cares) and a lot of valuable plate appearances (whoops).

So just hang on, non-Yankees American League East fans. Eat your fiber and get your daily exercise for just a few more years, and you'll live to see the Steinbrothers regret this bloated contract, too. And the anticipation will only make it better.

For more on the Yankees and their new favorite player, please visit Pinstripe Alley.